Tuesday 9 September 2008 (09 Ramadan 1429) 

      End Palestinian rifts: Saud
      Salah Nasrawi | AP 

            Prince Saud Al-Faisal presides over a meeting of Arab foreign 
ministers in Cairo on Monday. (AP)    
      CAIRO: Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal yesterday urged for an Arab 
push to help end inter-Palestinian rifts and re-establish moderate Palestinian 
rule in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip. Prince Saud's remarks came during a meeting 
of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo. He appeared to back an Egyptian proposal to 
send Arab troops to the coastal strip ruled by Hamas.

      "It's about time that the Arab countries take a solid and decisive stance 
against those who shed Palestinian blood and deepen the Palestinian division," 
Saud said. "This requires only one Palestinian authority and one government 
which controls the army and the security forces."

      He told the Cairo gathering that Palestinian factions have a vested 
interest in keeping the Gaza dispute ongoing.

      Egypt last week floated the idea of an Arab troop deployment to Gaza to 
end Hamas' control and re-establish the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority 

      Yesterday, Saud's Egyptian counterpart, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, said at the 
meeting in the Arab League headquarters that "this idea is on the table and it 
should be carefully looked into and studied." 

      "The presence of Arab troops on the ground can help in ending the 
fighting and halting the Palestinian-Israeli confrontations," Aboul Gheit 
added. Although Saud did not elaborate on what he meant with a "decisive" stand 
on Gaza, Arab media have reported that Riyadh shares Egypt's concern about the 
growing influence Iran - a Hamas ally - has in the coastal strip, and that it 
supports sending an Arab peacekeeping force in.

      Hamas and other radical Palestinian groups have said they oppose such an 

      Cairo plans to host a reconciliation meeting between the two groups after 
the holy month of Ramadan but apparently is looking to first shore up backing 
for an Arab peacekeeping force before trying to sell it to both factions.

      Iran's standoff with the West over its nuclear program was also on the 
agenda of the Cairo meeting. Saud said Iran should keep its commitment not to 
develop a nuclear weapons program and that this should "guarantee a quick and 
peaceful end" to the Iranian nuclear controversy



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